Second only to Sydney in population, Melbourne is the capital city of the state of the Australian state of Victoria and consistently makes the top of lists of the world's most livable cities. For those considering a gap year in Australia, Melbourne offers an unparalleled cultural experience - with great shopping and fashion, and enough restaurants, cafes and bars to last a lifetime. The city also hosts a number of world-class sporting events throughout the year, including the Australian Open Tennis in January, Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in March, and the AFL Grand Final in September. Whether you're planning to settle in for your gap year, or use it as a base for travel throughout Australia, Melbourne is sure to provide a memorable experience.
There are several unique volunteering opportunities in Melbourne, with something to fit everyone's interests. First, there is Pro Bono Australia, which matches an applicant’s skills with a wide variety of needs, from design to human rights to accounting.
For those interested in an intensive local experience, Melbourne City Mission accepts volunteers for senior services, student tutoring, corporate volunteering and other Melbourne-specific events and activities. The Melbourne City Mission relies on volunteer help almost exclusively, so you'll be filling a crucial need.
Another unique volunteer opportunity is with the Victoria Department of Justice who take volunteers for the courts, the Office of the Public Advocate, Emergency Services and other essential civil services. If you're at all interested in a legal profession, this could be a fantastic way to make your resume really stand apart.
As Australia is a popular base from which gap year travelers explore this area of the world, there is no lack of adventure travel opportunities out of Melbourne. It all depends on what kind of experience you want to have. If you prefer a looser itinerary and more of a solo travel vibe that includes adventure in Melbourne itself, then you will want to see what Oz Adventures has to offer. If instead you would feel more comfortable with a group dynamic, Ultimate Oz excels at grouping solo travelers together for more structured itineraries.
Indeed is a nationwide internship listing service that includes everything from community to corporate opportunities in Melbourne. If you're looking for something a little more creative, the Melbourne Fringe Festival has an internship program as part of their broader Artist & Sector Development program.
Global Services is more of an internship package, with options for host families and plenty of hand-holding when it comes to the visa requirements. If you are nervous about looking on your own, this would be a solid choice.
In addition to the above, Go Oversesas’ own Internships in Melbourne section is a great resource for a broad range of internship placements from both international and Australian companies, and reviews from past interns.
Planning Your Trip
Cost of Living in Melbourne:
These average cost of living prices may seem a bit high if you're not going to be working, but if you land a job it will be no problem; the average monthly income easily tops $5,000 USD. Examples of prices:
- Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre: $1,700
- Basic Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment: $191
- Monthly Transportation Pass (Regular Price): $120
- Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro): $16
- Eggs(12): $4
- Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle): $3
- Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-courses: $80
A basic Tourist Visa is generally valid for 3 months, and a number of other Visa types are available for those that would like to stay longer than this or who intend to work while in Australia:
- A Visitor Visa can extend your stay to 12 months.
- A Working Holiday Visa is for people from 18-31 years of age, and is valid for 12 months. Eligible countries include Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and United Kingdom.
- A Work and Holiday Visa is also for 12 months, and the age parameters are 18-30. For this one, eligible countries include Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and the USA. There are quota limits for this type of visa, so apply early to get yours.
Health & Safety
Health and Safety in Melbourne
Melbourne is a major city, and so inevitably has the typical types of big-city crime. But overall, it is a friendly, safe city that you can feel secure in calling home for your gap year. Albert Park, Altona, and Brunswick should be at the top of your list of neighborhoods to look for housing, but even the funky “laneways” are safe as well as fun.
That being said, the same basic big-city rules apply - know your route, travel with friends when possible, avoid sketchy situations, and don't flash your cash. One of the biggest hazards to your physical safety, surprisingly, is that they drive on the “wrong” side of the road - make sure always to look both ways before crossing any streets!
As far as health issues go, “wear sunblock” is probably the best advice we can give. Australia has a developed hospital system, and no vaccinations are required unless you're coming directly from South Africa or anywhere in South America.
Contributed by David Wright
Gap Year Programs in Melbourne
Carpe Diem Education Scholarships
Carpe Diem Education awards $30,000 annually to support diversity and inclusion in its programs. The Access Scholarship provides up to $5,000 for a gap year semester or full-year experience. The Inclusion Scholarship offers up to $2,000 for a gap year semester.
Omprakash Ethical Global Engagement Grants
The Ethical Global Engagement Grants, funded by volunteer platform Omprakash, are for those planning on volunteering with an Omprakash partner abroad and who also wish to enroll on the EdGE learning platform, but are financially unable to do so. They have a range of scholarships, including:
MASA Israel Journey Scholarship
MASA Israel Journey is funded by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel to encourage young Jewish people (ages 18 - 30) to experience the country. They provide scholarships to students on a need-basis.
How much does a gap year in Australia cost?
The cost of a gap year in Australia will vary greatly depending on what you plan to do. Gappers who au pair or partake in a work exchange program like WWOOFing can offset living expenses and only incur airfare and personal expenditures. In some cases, you may even get paid a stipend for this work. Travelers who choose to go to Australia through a gap year program should expect to spend as much as USD 5,000 or more for the program itself. The overall cost of living in Australia is similar to the US, which should be accounted for in your budget on top of program and transportation expenses.
Can I stay in Australia after graduation?
The length of time you can stay in Australia after you graduate depends on the type of degree you received. You will need to apply for a 485 skilled graduate temporary visa so that you can stay in the country for work, travel, or to continue your studies. You can stay for an additional 2 years after graduation if you received a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or master's by coursework degree. You can stay for 3 additional years if you received a master's by research degree. And you can stay for 4 years if you received a PhD.
What are the most popular types of gap year programs in Australia?
Australia is a popular gap year destination for travelers looking to split their time between short-term employment and adventurous activities, including surfing, scuba diving, and sailing. Additionally, au pair work exchanges, volunteering with environmental conservation projects, and paid farm work are all popular options for a gap experience in Australia.
What kind of visa do I need for a gap year in Australia?
The first step in planning your gap year in Australia is to check your visa eligibility to ensure you can legally stay in the country for an extended period. The most common visa for gappers in Australia is the working holiday visa, which permits both work and travel within Australia for the one year it is valid. You can research your eligibility and apply through the Australian Border Force website.